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How to Win More Business as an AE

Ron Vaimberg
Oct 18, 2016

Today, the wholesale/correspondent account executive faces as much competition as they ever have. In fact, with fewer lending programs available to bring to the marketplace, standing out from the crowd as an AE is harder than ever before. One of the first things crucial for today’s AE to understand is the mindset of your existing clients, as well as prospective clients, before you event attempt to develop or enhance relationships.

In the days prior to the great meltdown, brokers and loan officers were willing to meet with and speak with almost any AE because they were always looking for the “next product” that could allow them to get a loan approved that would have been declined in the past. In fact, if you were an AE during that time period, your company was likely launching new and more aggressive underwriting programs constantly. This was not just a sub-prime/Alt-A phenomenon, as even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were constantly changing their underwriting criteria and qualifying ratios to be more aggressive.

Today, the choices for loan programs are very limited, and a lender’s appetite for pushing underwriting to the extreme is much less. For this reason, many brokers and loan officers are of the mindset that most lenders are pretty much the same and will place their comparison between companies on two main factors: Price and turn-times.

Now let’s be real just for a moment … as an AE, you know that you will not win business by walking into any broker’s office and telling them “Your service stinks,” “Your turns times are horrible,” or “You are priced out of the market.” The traditional thinking of winning business is that you that you have to “one up” the competition. That means somehow or someway you need to offer something that is better than what your competitors currently offer. Although this is true to a point, the key resides in how you position yourself and your company. I will get to exactly how to do that in a few moments. Right now, I need to continue with the natural progression of understanding mindset first, and then moving on how to leverage your understanding of your prospect’s mindset.

Because brokers are busy with volume and don’t really perceive the difference between you and others, you need to be unique in your approach and also leverage every opportunity you have starting with your existing relationships.

I am a big believer in taking advantage of what I call “Opportunity Assets.” These are existing opportunities for business growth that you are not taking full advantage of. For this reason, when I am working with an AE one-on-one through personalized coaching, or presenting to an entire AE sales team, I always focus first on the fastest and easiest way to grow their production using resources that already exist.

Many AEs have existing relationships that already send them business. You have may have a great relationship with a broker, and you likely also are connected with LOs in the office, as well as processors. What is often the mistake that is made is that you keep visiting or making contact with your clients in hopes that you will create more presence of mind just by checking in. This does not usually work very well in creating a significant increase in business from the client. The reason is because they have already mentally placed you into a category and they send the amount of business that correlates with their mindset of how they see you or your company. Please understand that this is not simply about product, it is about how they perceive you and your company from pricing to turn-times to communication.

Instead of conducting your normal check-in with your broker client to see how they are doing and to explore what files you may be able to assist them with, try this approach. Ask a very focused question in person whenever possible. Reach out to your client, and request a face-to-face meeting. If you are an inside AE, then contact your client to schedule a specific time to speak with them. The mere indication that you want to meet or speak with them at a specific time implies that there is greater importance to the reason you are contacting them.

Once you are given the opportunity for the sit-down, then that is the time to do two things. First, you want to thank them for their business. This is different than thanking them for a loan they send. Rarely, if ever, do AEs thank their brokers for the relationship. It is far more common to thank them for deals. This may sound ridiculously simple, however I urge you to try it. You will be shocked by the reaction of your broker or loan officer.

The second part of your presentation is to ask them this specific questions: What do I, along with my company, need to do to serve you at a higher level?

Please note that I did not tell you to ask them how you can get more business. That is a self-serving question that is more about you than it is about your clients. When you ask someone how you can serve them better, their response leads you to uncover the real objections that prevent you from getting more business. My clients who have implemented this strategy have been absolutely floored by the responses they receive. Ironically, quite often, the hidden objection you elicit from your client more often than not is something you are able to solve for them.  However, you never knew it was important to your client so you never discussed it.

Price and turn-times are, of course, a reality in the need for the level of service you must provide. However, when you take the time to find out how you can serve your clients at a higher level, you will be surprised at how they will make it easier for you to meet their needs and earn more business. 

To take it to an even higher level, you can ask the question “What do you find most frustrating about dealing with lenders and AEs, even the ones you work with on a regular basis?” Get ready with pen and paper in hand because they are going to give you the secrets to winning more business from them and even greater loyalty.

The next area in growing your business with new accounts is knowing how to get their attention, and then how to deliver a presentation that wins them over. Remember, winning over a new account goes far beyond getting them to say “Yes.” They have to be motivated and excited enough to complete the broker application and submit all of the supporting documentation. Beyond that, they then need to be willing to learn how to do business with you so they will start submitting files. All of this takes motivation and the process of making it easy for them.

In a single article like this, it is not possible to cover everything you need to do to get their attention, get them to say “Yes,” complete the application package, and then begin the submission process. However, here are some strategies that you can use to assist in accomplishing each one of these phases.

Getting their attention and the appointment
In order to get the appointment with a new prospective broker/banker, you must have a way of getting their attention. Oftentimes in working with my clients, I have them send me their e-mails and whatever methods they use for getting the attention of brokers. It is amazing how many AEs use boring subject lines and content that scream to the intended target that you are likely to waste their time. Knowing how to write the proper headline on an e-mail and the first paragraph are key to getting a response. Even if you don’t get a response, when you send the right messages, you will dramatically increase the number of prospects who will take your call when you follow up.

In a recent survey I conducted on a Webinar for account execs, I asked the audience how many different ways they consistently reached out to prospective clients. The answer blew me away. Seventy-eight percent of the AEs on the Webinar stated that they had only two methods of getting the attention of new prospects. Going further into the survey, it was determined that more than 90 percent of the attendees did NOT have multiple messages prepared as part of a campaign to get the attention of and an appointment with their intended target.

To succeed in gaining the attention of your prospects, you must have multiple means of doing so, a series of influential messages that compel them to respond, and outside-the-box marketing strategies that will stand out and make sure they remember you.

Delivering the ultimate AE presentation
The majority of AEs deliver the old product and service dump presentation. They get an appointment with the prospect and focus on dumping everything that the company offers in hopes that the prospect will bite on something. I liken this to going fishing and throwing 20 different hooks in the water in the hope that a fish will bite on something. The right way to win relationships is not to dump everything, but to first know what you must talk about with your prospect. To do this, you must ask great questions. With the right questions, your prospect will tell you everything you need to know to win the relationship.

To give you a shortcut to making this concept work for you, allow me to explain the key to influence. To win relationships, you must solve problems for your prospects. Fortunately, the mortgage business has a way of causing a great deal of emotional pain for many who work in the business. With all of the regulatory and compliance changes and rules, the level of frustration that exists with brokers and loan officers has never been higher. Knowing how to tap into this negative emotion is the most powerful influencing skill you will ever need to win relationships.

When you ask great questions that uncover the pain and frustrations that your prospects have, they will tell you everything you need to know in order to serve them. Although price is a factor in decision-making, when a broker or loan officer truly believes that you will solve an issue for them that no one else is solving, not even their existing lender, you stand a greater chance of winning the relationship. When a prospect feels that you are going to make their life easier, getting them to complete the paperwork is easier.

The seven keys to succeeding with new relationships is to:

1. Grab their attention in creative ways with the proper messaging, along with a marketing campaign that combines different methods of contact.

2. Be relentless in your follow up. Know what to say to trigger an increase in the need for your prospect to respond.

3. When you meet with clients, ask them the questions that will help you uncover their pain and frustration.

4. Explain and demonstrate how you and your company can solve problems for them and make doing business less stressful and easier, including helping with regulatory and compliance concerns.

5. Keep them motivated to want to do business with you and use that motivation to get them to complete the necessary paperwork.

6. Keep following up and stoking the flames of pain and the solutions you provide so their motivation remains high.

7. Always make sure that after every contact with the prospect, you have your next step agreed upon so you both know exactly what you can expect from each other.

Ron Vaimberg is executive director and head coach for nmpU, a division of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Ron is a leading trainer and coach to wholesale and retail mortgage professionals and the creator of Ron can be reached by phone at (888) 979-6678 (nmpu), ext. 801 or by e-mail at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. 

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